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“I Got Thinking What Dale (Earnhardt) Told Me” – Richard Childress Reveals the “Great Horse Wreck” Which Kept Him From Quitting NASCAR

Published 03/06/2023, 8:03 PM EST

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Without a doubt, the most tragic incident in the history of NASCAR was when we lost Dale Earnhardt at Daytona 500 in 2001. It was a seismic experience that changed the sport forever in many, many ways.

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Over the years, Childress, who was Earnhardt’s team owner and his long-time friend, has expressed how he considered leaving NASCAR altogether after Earnhardt’s tragic demise.

And recently too, he opened up on a particular tale that gave him the strength to not quit, to go on, and do what Earnhardt too would’ve done.


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After the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress wanted to quit NASCAR

In a recent interview on Fast Cars 2 NASCAR with Mike Wallace, Childress opened up on what went through his mind after Earnhardt’s passing, the decision he was about to make, what changed that, and the decision he actually made.

“That night after that, I went back and talked to my wife and I said, ‘You know, we’re gonna sell this thing as soon as I get back home. I’m gonna get out of it, I’m out of racing.’ Lost my best friend, Dale was our franchise for RCR,” Childress said. “It was a tough deal, it still bothers me today even thinking about it.”


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He recalled how he was at Bill France Jr’s house, and he was on the dock by himself “just thinking” for hours.

And that’s when he remembered the “Big Horse Wreck.”

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Earnhardt’s words were what kept Childress going in NASCAR

Childress continued that while he was on the dock by himself, a particular hunting trip with Earnhardt came into his mind, one which took place when they were on their way to Phoenix.

“I thought about this big hunting, we called it Big Horse Wreck, but we got thinking about the Great Horse Wreck and Dale, I fell off the mountain… I said to Dale, ‘You know if I hadn’t made it off this mountain today, you’d have to went and race on from next weekend,'” Childress remembered. “He said, ‘If it ever happens to me,’ he said, ‘You gotta go and race.'”



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This was something that the legendary team owner said hit him “like a ton of bricks”, that it got him emotional, and then after a few minutes, he had made a decision.

“I called Bobby Hutchens, I said, ‘Bobby, we’re going to Rockingham, paint the car white, call NASCAR, get the lowest number you can, be at the shop tonight, have Kevin Harvick there, I am gonna put Kevin Harvick in the car if he wants to drive it,’ I knew he did because we were gonna put him in another car next year,” he described.


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“So that’s how that went down. If it hadn’t been for the Great Horse Wreck, I might not have been here today. I got thinking what Dale told me and we went to Rockingham racing.”




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Shaharyar is a NASCAR writer at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Journalism from Amity University, he has been a passionate follower of motorsports for a better part of the decade. While Kyle Busch is always his first pick, he also considers Kyle Larson a legend in the making.

Edited By: Nischal Kandpal